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Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack Review

The Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack is a versatile, robust backpack with unique features, and its sleek design has ample customizability.

Our Verdict

7.4 /10
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  • T-Lok system provides tons of carry customizability
  • Thoughtfully designed pockets are easy to use
  • Main compartment's design allows for easy expansion when needed


  • Shoulder straps are just adequately comfortable
  • Protective flaps over zippers can get in the way when trying to get into compartments
  • Inserting or removing water bottles into dedicated pockets feels clunky

Technical Details

86 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 124/145 Airlines

67 %

Like the Look

Polled on Instagram

  • Capacity


  • Weight (lb)

    2.6 lb (1.2 kg)

  • Dimensions

    19 in x 12.5 in x 5.5 in (48.3 x 31.8 x 14 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    Ballistic Nylon, Recycled Nylon, Recycled Polyester, YKK Zippers

  • Laptop Compartment Size


    Actual size: 16" x 11.5"

  • Warranty Information

    Chrome Industries Warranty

Buying Options

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Full Review

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The Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack is a highly adaptable and customizable backpack that provides some interesting and unique features that suit a wide variety of users. Whether as a daily carry on the train, a casual backpack in a more formal office setting, or as a travel companion abroad, this backpack brings a unique mix of style and customizability to the table in an environmentally responsible package. It also had a decent amount of weather protection.

Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack Back
Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack | Its sleek aesthetic and weatherproofing make this an excellent daily carry.

The backpack’s design is pretty minimal and pleasingly modern, with subtle branding that allows it to blend into both professional and casual environments with ease. Despite its straightforward design, the backpack offers a surprising amount of storage, customizability, and thoughtfully designed compartments that serve a variety of users in a plethora of different scenarios.

External Components

The bag features three subtle attachment points at the bottom front and two on each shoulder strap. These points, made from sturdy nylon webbing, can be used to clip on additional gear. Thanks to their design, they seem pretty strong, eliminating any concerns about the gear being quickly snatched, depending on what and how it is attached.

Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack Button Loop
Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack | Attachment points blend in and are pretty strong.

The Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack has a minimal carry setup featuring a standard top grab handle made from basic nylon webbing, which unfortunately offers no padding or comfort. Despite this minor shortcoming, it is surprisingly helpful in a pinch. The bag tends to lean forward when carried by this handle, which isn’t ideal. However, the handle is hidden when not in use, staying out of the way and not obstructing any zippers. Initially, we were not fans of the grab handle due to its simplicity and lack of comfort. But over time, we developed an appreciation for its design and found it easy to carry the pack with other things in hand. Unlike many grab handles that are padded and sit flush against the pack, this one hangs easily, allowing the user to hold it along with other items at the same time with the extra slack.

Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack Carry Handle
Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack | Simple grab handle is surprisingly useful despite its lack of comfort.

It also features a subtle luggage pass-through that fits neatly between the comfortable padding of the pack panel. This design does not obstruct or take up any space, blending seamlessly into the bag when not in use. However, due to this design, the bag is forced to sit sideways when placed on roller luggage. This isn’t an inherent problem, but it is worth noting if you plan to use the side water bottle pockets or place any gear there, as these may not be easily accessible or could potentially fall out.

Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack Luggage Pass Through
Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack | Due to the design, caution is advised when storing items in the water bottle pockets and placing them on top of roller luggage.

The backpack features a simple logo patch on the front and a minimal emblem on one of the backpack straps, offering a discrete branding experience. The pack is made from a combination of recycled nylon, ballistic nylon, and polyester, and its all-black aesthetic can make it a bit difficult to locate pockets and zippers, which can be a pro or a con, depending on your perspective. The material feels average, not too rough or smooth, but still offers adequate gear protection, especially from the weather. As for the zippers, it is important to note that they tend to get caught when trying to zip/unzip, mainly due to the protective flap covering the zipper, which no doubt adds to the weather protection. Besides the all-black version we have here, the backpack is also available in two other color options at the time of writing: Castlerock Twill (a light-ish gray) and Royale (deep burgundy or dark red).

One of the most unique features of this backpack is its “T-Lok” shoulder straps that are decently comfortable but super customizable. Offering additional attachment points for their T-Lok system, the straps can be attached at different points for added customizability. This allows the straps to be adjustable, taking into consideration different body builds and preferences when it comes to height and width. By removing one strap entirely and attaching one of the T-Loks to the opposite side, the bag can also be converted to a cross-body sling. This level of customizability ensures the backpack can be flexible to match the gear, adventure, or preferred carry style.

Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack T-Lok
Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack | Unique T-Lok system provides an immense amount of customization for a variety of body types and carry styles.

The T-Lok design allows the straps to be stowed and removed, providing a unique and personal customization. Due to the strap’s design, attached via a nylon strap, they tend to twist slightly more than usual, but we’ve found it to be only a minor inconvenience. To customize the straps, all you have to do is pull the webbing through the adjuster and unhook the T-Lok from the top. The nylon webbing/straps can also be stowed in a subtle pocket located discreetly in front of the straps. The shoulder straps are relatively thin, an aspect that becomes more noticeable when the bag is fully packed, but this doesn’t affect comfort enough for us to knock the bag too much.

Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack Strap
Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack | The sternum strap is customizable on a rail system and uses a quick-release button.

The backpack also has a removable sternum strap on a rail system, which allows for endless customization. It slides smoothly and is easy to use, attaching via a buckle with a small branded logo. The buckle design took some trial and error to figure out, as it resembles a magnetic buckle but is designed to be a press button. We struggle so that you do not have to. Keeping that in mind, it is easy to use and pretty secure.

Fit Notes

Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack Side-by-Side
Left: Morgan White, Height: 6’0 (182 cm), Torso: 17.75” (45 cm)| Right: Lauren Maternowski, Height: 5’6” (168 cm), Torso: 16.5” (42 cm)

With a relatively boxy aesthetic, the all-black version of this product boasts a minimal footprint while still being stylish. It could easily be mistaken for a modern-day briefcase when positioned vertically due to its box-like design. Its versatile style allows it to blend seamlessly into casual and professional settings, whether in an office, lecture hall, or coffee shop.

Inside The Pack

Looking inside, we’ll start things off with the front compartment with a dual zipper extending halfway down the sides. This compartment provides fantastic organization and accessibility thanks to the wide opening. Another nice design touch is the placement of this pocket’s organization panel. The organizational panel stops halfway down, leaving the rest of the compartment as pure storage below the panel. For weather protection, most of the external pockets are protected by a flap that provides some concealment and protection against the elements. However, peeling it back to use the zipper can become tiresome. This front compartment also features some added organization for storing essentials, a small tag with their logo, and a key clip. The plastic key clip is uniquely designed for smooth one-handed removal, although attaching keys can sometimes require two hands. The pockets also have a nice black accent lining to add contrast and mark their beginning and end for extra visibility.

There’s a slip pocket about the size of a document sleeve that only goes about 3/4 down the bag, in front of which lies a second basic slip pocket, a pen/stylus pocket, and a stretchy black mesh pocket. Opposite this compartment is another zippered mesh pocket extending halfway down the bag. The rest of the bag can be used to store miscellaneous items. We find this works well for pouches, as they sit at the bottom of the bag and do not interfere with using any of the upper organizational pockets.

Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack Front Compartment
Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack | The front pocket’s organizational panel is thoughtfully designed to be easily accessible.

Another notable feature of this pack is a dedicated storage section for a U-lock, providing quick and easy access, which could be pretty beneficial for those who regularly use U-locks or bike locks. Thoughtfully designed, this feature can be completely ignored if it’s not needed, blending seamlessly into the bag itself. The section is secured with a hook-and-loop closure at the top and has a stretchy mesh bottom to prevent items from falling all the way through. Given its somewhat secretive nature, it can also double as a quick-access pocket without drawing unnecessary attention. However, it’s worth noting that it’s located on the front of the backpack, so caution is advised when placing items in it, especially in crowded environments.

Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack Front Pocket
Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack | Originally designed to store a U-Lock, this pocket also acts as a quick-access slip pocket.

On both sides are water bottle pockets constructed from the same nylon material as the rest of the bag but with a gusset that provides a minor degree of stretch. This feature allows for easy insertion and removal of a standard 16 oz water bottle using just one hand, although we’ve found that larger bottles might require a more interactive approach. When not in use, these pockets sit flush against the bag so the bag can maintain its sleek profile.

Located on the top of the pack is a somewhat hidden quick-access pocket between the top grab handle and the main compartment’s zipper, perfect for storing sunglasses. Lined with a soft, quilt-like material in a dark gray color, this pocket has a subtle contrast, providing an OK amount of visibility for the contents inside. However, due to its position and hidden zipper, it can be easily overlooked. While this feature is theoretically beneficial, it can occasionally be a bit more complex in practice, as it can take a few moments to locate the zipper, even when you know where it is. Your experience may vary.

Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack In Use
Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack | Quick and easy access to sunglasses or phone, although it may take a bit of time to locate.

The dedicated laptop compartment presents an interesting approach that we dig. Located directly behind the bag’s padding and only accessible from the side, this compartment features gray quilt-like padding, similar to the top sunglasses pocket, providing a plush and scratch-free environment for laptops, tablets, and similar items. Although Chrome advertises the compartment fits most 15″ devices, with measured dimensions of 16 “x11.5″, we decided to test its limits by trying to fit a 16” MacBook Pro. While it did fit after some configuring and light adjusting, the space was tight, and the laptop was not easy to remove or insert, suggesting it might not be the ideal choice for such larger devices. This holds true, especially if other areas of the pack are sufficiently stuffed. A thoughtful design feature is a small flap at the bottom that prevents items from accidentally falling out when the zipper is fully opened.

Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack Laptop
Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack | Designed to fit most devices up to 15″, you may be able to get away with a 16″ device if configured appropriately.

Moving over to the main compartment, it is a pretty simplistic and straightforward design that can be considered an asset rather than a detriment. It functions as a dedicated space that allows for storing an assortment of gear. Like the front compartment, its dual zippers extend only halfway down each side, offering a top-loading experience rather than a broad overview. However, this compartment also suffers from the aforementioned issue of the protective flap obscuring access and requiring an additional step to flip back for zipping or unzipping in some cases.

What sets this compartment apart is its flexibility to expand or contract as needed. As the primary storage area, it does not disappoint with its capacity, which spans the entire width and length of the bag. It can accommodate a surprising amount of gear. This compartment has been tested in various scenarios, from a weekend trip to Chicago, where it comfortably held a decent-sized tech pouch, a toiletries pouch, and a light jacket, to a walk through the city to an annual park race, where it stored a pair of sweatpants and a packable jacket with room to spare.

Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack Empty
Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack | Somewhere between clamshell and top loading, the main compartment acts as a dump site for everything else.

The Chrome Industries Hawes 26L Pack is a versatile and highly customizable backpack designed with a modern user in mind. Its key features include its unique “T-Lok” shoulder straps, which offer comfort and adaptability, and a dedicated storage section for a U-lock or other quick-access items. The pack is made from a combination of materials, creating a durable and weather-resistant product that does not wreak havoc on the environment. The main compartment is spacious and flexible, capable of accommodating a variety of items, while the laptop compartment is plush and scratch-resistant, designed to hold most 15″ devices. Subtle branding and a minimal aesthetic ensure the backpack blends seamlessly into both casual and professional settings. Despite its complex design, the backpack remains user-friendly, with well-placed, thoughtfully designed compartments and pockets that are easy to access and make it a joy to use.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • T-Lok shoulder straps provide a lot of flexibility
  • Has a ton of attachment points and loops throughout
  • Can compress to a pretty flat degree
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • External materials still look and feel great
  • Zippers still require some work when going around corners
  • Shoulder straps are moderately comfortable
By Morgan White
Created April 9, 2024 • Updated April 9, 2024
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